fine love. What exactly is it? Is love a thing? Can you hold it in your hands? Is it an emotion that comes and goes?
Is love that dreamy romantic state that intoxicates you? Is love something you fall into, and out of?
We know for sure that love is the greatest single need and desire of humankind. Everyone wants and seeks love. Love is considered the highest expression of humanity, religion and spirituality. Love has the power to heal, set people free, make whole and put one at deep peace and joy. There is only one force proven to be more powerful than hate―love. Love has inspired the greatest works of art and motivated the greatest movements of compassion and justice. Pierre Teilhard Chardin said, “Someday, after we have mastered the wind, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness the energies of love. And then, for the second time in the history of the human race, we will have discovered fire.”
And yet you can’t define love. Try as you may, but then at the end of your definition you must footnote an acknowledgement that love is deeper and wider than whatever you came up with. You’re getting closer if you say love is like God. Love is the Ultimate Reality. You can’t define God or love, but if you could, you would be bumping into the same thing. In fact, the Bible says, “God is love,” which is why I capitalize the word (Love) when referring to it in this sense. Those three words radically changed my understanding of God. Here are some examples:
Before: God is synonymous with religion. Now: God is synonymous with Love.
Before: Christianity is a belief system. Now: Christianity is a school of Love carried out in apprenticeship to Christ.
Before: God’s frame of mind toward humankind is disgust and anger. Now: God’s frame of mind and His motive in all things toward humankind is Love.
Before: I primarily experience God through religious rituals and acts of obedience. Now: When I am experiencing Love, I am experiencing God.
Before: Christian living is trying harder to be more and do more. Now: Christian living is an overflow of God’s Love in me.
Before: My source of Love is outside myself and I’m dependent on others to supply it. Now: My source of Love is within me and while I enjoy the Love of others, I’m not dependent on it and can freely love others without the expectation of receiving Love in return.
Before: I am created in God’s image, which means I have the capacity to make rational choices and exercise my free will. Now: I am created in the image of Perfect Love, which means Love is the core of my identity and I can choose Love.
Before: The main thing is getting people to adopt my beliefs about God. Now: Loving people creates desire within others to know God.
Before: Somewhere out there is God’s purpose for my life and I must find it. Now: At every moment, God’s purpose for me is to be Love.
Before: Being “in Love” is some temporary euphoric guy-meets-girl experience. Now: Being “in Love” is walking in the conscious awareness of and dependent on God’s Love in me and as me.
Before: Tough Love is withholding Love from others as a means of disapproval or attempt to bring change. Now: Tough Love is Loving others without condition, regardless of the result.
In recent times I’ve realized that the spirit of Christ within, seeks to awaken me and make me aware of God’s Love within myself, and to free me to express this Love to all people everywhere. To “be like Christ” is to accept that God Loves me as He Loves Jesus Christ, and to be this Love in every moment as Jesus was. These days I am discovering great peace, joy and freedom as I apprentice myself to Christ in the way of Love.
Perhaps you don’t feel Love within and for yourself, or doubt God’s Love for you, or see very little Love in the world. Perhaps you are surrounded by people who do not offer you Love. The truth that God is Love means far more than God simply choosing at times to offer Love or act in Loving ways. God’s Love is not a spigot that He turns off and on depending upon conditions, circumstances or how good you are. God IS Love, which means that at every moment God’s Love flows and is available to all people, all the time, everywhere, without condition. All that’s left is to remove what blocks your awareness of Love’s presence, which is your natural inheritance.
Sure you might not Love at times, but your behavior and attitudes don’t create your identity; rather, your identity creates your behavior and attitudes. Whoever a man thinks he is, determines what he says and does. If God is Love and you are His creation, then you are Love.
I am convinced that the following five beliefs could change the world:
God is Love.
Every person, beginning with me, is worthy of receiving Love.
My true identity is Love.
The greatest gift I can give anyone is Love.
Every thought, word, act and expression motivated by Love matters.
One way I experience Love is a deep knowing I am continuously held in unconditional acceptance. When I allow myself to dwell there, all sense of separation from God is extinguished and I experience oneness with God. Free at last! Jesus prayed we would experience this oneness, and I am finding that Love is the doorway to it.
What if we turned Love inside out or as Chardin said, “harness the energies of love”? When we express Love we stimulate the awareness of Love in others. Loving thoughts, spoken words, body language, physical touch, momentary interactions with others, acts of mercy and kindness, creating and sharing images of Love through song, art, photography and all creative forms, giving others attention, being fully present and listening to others, affirming the spiritual identity of others, are all expressions of Love. Any and every expression motivated by Love or in Love matters! No expression of Love is wasted.
I enjoy hiking, and often trails are marked by various color streaks on trees—red, blue, green, whatever. Likewise, the trail to God, in God, with God is marked by Love. As I allow the inner experience of Love to flow into a life of being Love, I am one of those trees showing people the path to God, Ultimate Reality, and the only power on earth capable of transforming our inner being.
Jim Palmer is the author of Divine Nobodies and Wide Open Spaces, and is currently writing his next book for Zondervan Publishing. You can find Jim at www.divinenobodies.com.